Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


significant addition to the list, largely because the revival of the
Teaching Congregations under the Napoleonic system gave a
new importance to home education for those dissatisfied with the
increasing clerical influence in public education. Within the
first half of the century writings of distinction, if not of out-
standing greatness, came from the pens of Madame de Stael
(On Germany, 1810), Madame Campan (On Education, 1824),
Madame de Remusat (The Education of Women, 1824), Madame
Guizot (Domestic Education, 1826) and Madame Necker de
Saussure (Progressive Education, 1836-1838).

Madame Necker de Saussure (1765-1841) is the most out-
standing of these, and except in certain points, her doctrines
may be taken as typical of the group. Like most French writers
on education at this time, she is at once a disciple and a critic
of Rousseau, her fellow-townsman. All her work is definitely
based on child study. Quite in the spirit of her master, she
kept a diary of her own experiences with her children—as she
advises all who have to bring up children to do—and she draws
constantly on it in the course of her discussion. She follows him
further in regarding education as a development of faculties,
commencing with the senses, and in urging the educator to give
the pupil as much independence in making and following his
own decisions as is possible. The radical difference between
them is that whereas Rousseau believed the first impulses of the
child to be essentially good, she believes them to be essentially
bad. Consequently she cannot accept the doctrine of negative
education. With dispositions tending to evil, the child simply
cannot be allowed to do what he wishes, but must be compelled
to do what he ought. There is no need to wait till adolescence
before making a beginning with moral and religious education.
There are no such sharp divisions between successive periods of
life as Rousseau makes. By the age of five, the intellectual nature
of the child is sufficiently developed to train the will aright by
enforced obedience to law and to cultivate the imagination in
good directions. The breach with Rousseau is most complete
in the third volume of Progressive Education, which deals with the
education of women. Very properly she rejects his narrow
conception of feminine education as a preparation for wifehood
and maternity, and insists that even for the performance of the
specific duties of her sex the girl needs a broad education that will